The National Institute for Animal Agriculture and the US Animal Health Association will be co-hosting the 2017 Strategy Forum on Livestock Traceability in Denver, Colorado this September to discuss the important issue of livestock traceability.

Collaboration among producers, commercial interests and regulatory agencies at the state, tribal and federal level have had an increasing impact on the success of the USDA Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) Program.

ADT Program updates and an assessment report of its implementation from 2013-2016 will be presented at the Forum by speakers Neil Hammerschmidt, Program Manager, Animal Disease Traceability, USDA APHIS Veterinary Services and Sunny Geiser-Novotny, VMD, MS, Cattle Health Staff/ Animal Disease Traceability Veterinarian, USDA APHIS VS.

“We will be bringing reports to the Forum that reflect the status of the ADT program and a summary of the discussions we’ve had the past several months through various outreach activities including nine public meetings,” says Hammerschmidt. “Feedback and suggestions from a state and federal working group addressing current traceability gaps will also be presented.”

“In 2013, the USDA developed a framework of ADT, and defined the basic fundamentals we wanted to achieve,” says Hammerschmidt, “Now our goal is to examine how well we have done in implementing that framework, talk about gaps, or shortcomings the current framework may have. What's working well, what's confusing, what’s problematic. 

“When we developed the framework, we knew it was a small part of traceability overall. Now we need to consider how we can build from that basic foundation to enhance disease traceability.” 

Forum participants will have an opportunity to discuss those preliminary recommendations and suggestions, which will help the USDA to consider how to move forward with ADT from a program perspective.

“We've listened to the industry for months,” he says. “We know the challenges, we have recommendations, and now we are open to more. But we need to understand what concepts are supported by the industry, so the USDA can consider what’s proposed accordingly.”

“We want to be on the same road with the industry,” Hammerschmidt continues. “We want to know that we have significant support to make sure we have a program that works for everyone.”

The focus of the Forum will be on cattle traceability, which is where the ADT framework is concentrated, but the lessons learned can also have application across other species when it comes to movement and commerce.  Sheep and goats have their own guidelines for transport and movement and formerly the cattle industry had programs to track diseases like tuberculosis and brucellosis. But as those diseases near eradication and the accompanying programs are being phased out, in the future, traceability will not be disease-specific but all-encompassing so it works regardless of the issue or disease.

The most significant change since the Animal Disease Traceability Forum co-hosted by NIAA and USAHA in 2013, according to Hammerschmidt, is the interest in the industry in moving forward with electronic identification. 

“The support for electronic ID has grown, now that the industry has tested and implemented parts of electronic ID more successfully,” he says.

As for what is next in livestock traceability, Hammerschmidt acknowledges that including beef feeder cattle in the official ID requirement is important in the long-term, but the immediate priority is to address current shortfalls and problematic issues in the classes of cattle currently covered.

Other sessions at the Forum will examine the development of the next version of the Owner/Shipper Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Interstate movement, evaluate the implications of traceability for livestock used for rodeo, fairs & exhibitions, how the Canadian Traceability Program operates, and the importance of traceability as an aspect of biosecurity.

The Strategy Forum will be held September 26 -27, 2017 at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Denver-Stapleton North, Denver, Colorado. Register at the NIAA website under Events, Livestock Traceability Forum at .

Source: The National Institute for Animal Agriculture